Jonathan Mannion Thanks All the Moms with VH1
Motherhood is hard. It's complicated. Every child has different needs and offers different challenges, and mothers take on that burden while maintaining and building their own lives. It's an impossible challenge but one we expect of every mother who parents a child. That's why we're sure to take at least one day a year to appreciate what mothers do. Every spring we celebrate Mother's Day as a culture to bring attention to these sacrifices and generosities. This year VH1 put together a concert that celebrates mothers that they called "Dear Mama," after the Tupac Shakur song that celebrated his own mother, Afeni. VH1 invited musicians and stars to celebrate their own mothers on stage and brought in Jonathan Mannion to photograph the performers and attendees in a unique way while they were heading into the event. He met and photographed Alicia Keys, Swizz Beats, Queen Latifah, Rito Ora, Alessia Cara, and the Smith Family, as well as Lucia McBath, the mother of Jordan Davis. “It was amazing to spend that time with that level of talent and to hear the performance that Alicia gave to her mom was spectacular,” says Jonathan about the experience. “It’s an honor to work with this level of brilliance in so many different categories. And to celebrate women and celebrate mothers.”
In a despairing twist of fate, the day of the Dear Mama show Mrs Shakur passed away. The coincidence was lost on no one, least of all Jonathan whose own photograph was used as memorial for Tupac's mother. As Mannion remembers, she was so much more than a mother to one of the most significant rappers in history, she was an activist herself and her work for social justice was worthy of note on its own. He photographed Mrs Shakur years ago in a shoot that he describes as “beautiful,” and that image became the unofficial image of her memory that day and still is.
‘Dear Mama’ was a celebration about all mothers and Jonathan wouldn’t give up the opportunity to express gratitude for his own. “My Mom is the most incredible Mom on the planet. Period,” says Jonathan. “I know many people feel that way about their Mom but pound for pound I’m putting my Mom up against any Mom that has ever lived.” Being a mother is a tireless, impossible job, so the least we can do is thank and remember the Moms that have touched our lives. Thank you.